Some days are just made for chocolate chip cookies. Rainy days, snowy days, bad days, exciting-news days; there are many options. Some days are made for baking, especially cold days when the heat of the oven is a welcome addition to the kitchen. But what about those days when you just want a cookie now. And by cookie, you mean homemade-warm-from-the-oven, eaten while wearing pajamas, preferably without having to also clean up a mess in the kitchen. And for that matter, what do you do with all the extra cookies that you baked when you just wanted two of them. I am not the kind of person who can resist a fresh-baked cookie. If there are a dozen cookies on the cooling rack, it’s likely that some number between four and six of them will end up in my belly within the hour.
When I was in college, my brother’s soccer team sold cookie dough as a fundraiser. My mom bought a batch for me and my college roommates and they arrived in a box containing several stacked trays each with about 12 pre-formed cookies. The dough was meant to be kept in the freezer and baked from frozen. It was genius! We had a small toaster oven and whenever you wanted a cookie you just took a few of those frozen cookies and stuck it in the toaster oven for a few minutes longer than indicated in the direction. Fresh from the oven cookies and the best part was that you only baked as many as you wanted at the time (which was limited to about six because of the size of the toaster oven) and didn’t have to clean up any baking equipment afterwards.
At some point I realized that you could do this to just about any cookie dough. If you pre-shape the cookies before freezing, all you have to do is put the frozen dough onto a baking sheet and bake it for a few minutes longer than you would freshly made dough. Freezing the dough also helps the cookies hold their shape longer into the baking process so the fully baked cookie is rounder and taller than it would have been without freezing. This means chewey centers and crispy edges; the key to a superior cookie in my opinion.
My favorite recipe to do this with – and really my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe in general – is the one from the NY Times a few years ago. It makes a fairly dry dough to begin with so it freezes well since there’s not a lot of liquid to create ice crystals. To ensure even size and therefore even baking, I use a small ice cream scoop to form each cookie.
The recipe for these cookies has been posted and shared at length over the past few years so I’ll just direct you to the original source. Once you’ve let the dough rest in the fridge for 24-72 hours after mixing, scoop out individual cookies onto a baking sheet (skip the sprinkle of salt to the tops until right before you bake them, otherwise it has a tendency to fall off) and freeze them overnight. Then put them in a ziploc bag labeled with the date I made them and the baking directions – always add a minute or two to the baking time if you bake them from frozen. That way every cookie can be eaten right from the oven.